The President's Desk: Andrés Spokoiny

Andrés Spokoiny is President & CEO of Jewish Funders Network. Full bio >>

Does the Jewish Community Need a Central COVID Fund? Here's A Better Strategy for Addressing the Crisis

In the current crisis, we are hearing calls in the Jewish media and in leadership conversations to launch an “emergency campaign” creating a “central fund” to “save” the Jewish community system from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

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Coronavirus Is a Test for Funders, and Failing Isn't an Option

JFN President and CEO Andrés Spokoiny's presidential address at the JFN 2020 Virtual Convening, delivered on March 23, 2020.

*URGENT: If you haven't already, please fill out our Coronavirus Survey for Funders as soon as possible!*

Scroll down or click here to watch this speech.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” said Thomas Paine. And these times are trying ours.

These are times in which our character is being tested; our wisdom; our empathy; our compassion; our selflessness and being tried.

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Of Masks and Plagues (Purim 5780)

Time has a knack for irony.

The last of Chronos’ practical jokes: making us celebrate a holiday in which we disguise ourselves, in the middle of a global pandemic whose symbol is to be the ubiquitous face mask.

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Drowning in a Flood of Instant Gratification (Tu Bishvat 5780)

Stav Harari and Dean Shoshani, both 25, had just started their lives together in a new apartment in the colorful Hatikvah Quarter in South Tel Aviv. Dean was ecstatic, telling his sister that “my dream is coming true every day.”

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Fighting Antisemitism Is More Complicated Than You Think

American Jews are anxious. Antisemitism and Judeophobia, which didn’t used to be overriding concerns in the daily lives of Jewish Americans – and of Jewish leadership and organizations – now dominate the public communal discourse.

This piece doesn’t seek to explain the phenomenon of contemporary antisemitism, as others, like Deborah Lipstadt and Bari Weiss, have done that masterfully already. Nor will I weigh in on which manifestations of antisemitism are most alarming, whether from the right, left, or the Islamic world. Rather, as the president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, I am focusing on the Jewish philanthropic response to antisemitism and offering some guidance for funders on what to do, and most importantly, what not to do, based on what is effective versus what is not just ineffective, but destructive.
Based on our collective experience and on our critical observations of the field, we can distill a few principles that funders can follow.

Read the rest of this article below or on eJewish Philanthropy.

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The Decline and Fall of Every Revolution (Hanukkah 5780)

22 years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev found himself in a situation he never imagined he’d be in: broke.

This was the man who had led a world superpower, signed groundbreaking nuclear arms control agreements, and initiated a transformation of the Soviet Union that  eventually transformed it into a free market economy before collapsing its domination of Eastern Europe into an outbreak of freedom.

In 1997, however, he was on the brink of bankruptcy. In what must have been an excruciating decision, and one which brought him ridicule, he agreed to film a commercial for Pizza Hut.

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What Israel Can Learn from the Hasmoneans

The Forward, December 19, 2019.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Israel is locked in conflict over how to treat non-Jewish people living in the land. Stark divisions are growing between radically different visions of what being Jewish means. Tensions are rising as lines blur between religious and civil authority. And the nation’s relationship with the world’s dominant superpower grows both closer and more fraught.

Welcome to 100 BCE.

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Before the Next Recession, Philanthropy Needs to Redefine Efficiency

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), December 17, 2019.

In a crisis, short-term efficiency can be a shock amplifier. Long-term efficiency comes from building resilient institutions.

There will be another recession. Some economic indicators are already pointing in that direction, like the U.S. Treasury Bond yield curve. It may be mild or severe, and it may be sooner or later. But while we can’t predict the timing or severity, we can be certain that it’s coming. And so, we should be ready.

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Why Jews Should Defend Liberal Democracy

Liberal democracy is in danger.

From Hungary and Poland to Brazil and Venezuela, democracy is in retreat. Even in solid democracies like Israel and America, cracks are appearing in democratic norms.

As liberal democracy is increasingly questioned, Jews face the temptation of falling into an old and dangerous Jewish habit: putting our trust in autocratic kings.

We must not fall for it. Jews, more than anyone else, must stand up for liberal democracy.

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At Home in the World? (Sukkot 5780)

Until now, I’ve always felt at home in the world.

I have lived in five different countries and visited close to a hundred. I’ve always felt that the world was a place of opportunity and promise, a place where I could feel at home. After visiting most countries I’d say to myself, “I think I could live here.” If I felt particularly ill-adapted to a specific country, I always knew that there are many other places in which I can feel “at home”.

Lately, however, I’ve been besieged by the opposite feeling: a sense of homelessness in the world.

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